Volunteering should be part of the business plan

by Ruth Whitney ([email protected]) 109 views 

Editor’s note: Ruth Whitney is founder and CEO of InVeritas, a global public affairs firm. Opinions, commentary and other essays posted in this space are wholly the view of the author(s). They may not represent the opinion of the owners of Talk Business & Politics.
Tis the season for giving. But, increasingly, businesses are discovering that giving back is a year-round effort. It’s not only good for the communities they serve; it’s also good for their bottom line.

Corporate volunteering is linked with employee retention, and employee retention means a more profitable company. Companies that focus on employee programs, like volunteering, enjoy greater employee satisfaction, higher morale, and because of that, greater productivity and profitability.

Leaders know employees expect these programs to be offered. According to America’s Charities 2015 survey of employee engagement and social impact, 70% of survey respondents strongly agreed that employees expect them to be a socially responsible company.

That expectation will only continue as the number of millennials in the workplace continues to grow.

The millennial generation is known for its social responsibility and desire to do good, both personally and professionally. According to a study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, millennials are willing to sacrifice an average of 14.4% of their expected salaries to work at socially responsible companies. That’s a far cry from the traditional model where competitive wages and benefits were the key variables that attracted potential employees. Millennials, however, want to work for a company that shares their values, including supporting causes they support.

Businesses are responding to this altruistic spirit.

According to the National Philanthropic Trust, in 2015, corporate giving increased to $18.46 billion: a 3.9% increase from 2014, and nearly 60% of companies offer paid time off for employees to volunteer (America’s Charities Snapshot 2015). These non-profits reap the rewards through time and money, and the benefits to the company are as visible as the bottom line.

Disengaged employees are a major threat to any business. According to a Gallup survey, disengaged employees cost an estimated $350 billion to their employers every year.

And there are other benefits. It helps employees unite as a team. An article in U.S. News and World Report listed volunteering as one of the five best bonding outings for co-workers because it encourages giving back to the community while prioritizing the causes they care about most.

“In addition to being a good corporate citizen, employers can feel confident knowing that research suggests that participating in volunteer activities outside of the office can help employees recover from work and come back re-energized,” wrote David Ballard of the American Psychological Association.

Ballard says participating in volunteer activities helps improve leadership abilities in ways that extend beyond what employees can learn in a seminar.

At inVeritas, volunteering is a team affair. Employees are encouraged to nominate organizations in the community that could benefit from our time and financial resources. Team members promote their favorite causes and vote on the charities they would like to support. There are a lot of benefits to this approach but two stand out: The team takes ownership in deciding what charity will be supported, and we all learn about many worthy organizations that we can support outside of the office.

inVeritas is not alone in its efforts. Fortune magazine recently noted the gratification of volunteering is inspiring workers who seek a higher purpose in their day-to-day jobs. They compiled a list of the 50 best workplaces for giving back.

Find a cause that your team supports and experience the benefits of volunteering and bonding as a team all year long.